November 15, 2011 09:08 ET

Northern Europe Pharmaceuticals Market to Reach $26 Billion by 2016

ROCKVILLE, MD--(Marketwire - Nov 15, 2011) - has announced the addition of the new report "The Outlook for Pharmaceuticals in Northern Europe," to their collection of Pharmaceuticals market reports. For more information, visit

The Northern European countries are projected to represent a combined pharmaceutical market value of over US$26 billion at retail prices by 2016.

The seven Northern European pharmaceutical markets are diverse, from the stable well-developed markets of Scandinavia to the less well-funded healthcare systems of the Baltic States. The economic downturn has impacted these pharmaceutical markets but opportunities still exist. Sweden, for instance, became the interest of many pharmacy chains following the deregulation of the pharmacy monopoly.

Denmark suffered a deep recession in 2008 and 2009, but economic recovery is strengthening. Strong growth in hospital prescribing suggests an increase in new therapies being utilized there, while modest growth in the primary sector is indicative of a steady consumption of pharmaceuticals in general. The increasing pharmaceutical expenditure has led to price freezes and caps in recent years. A price ceiling has been extended to remain in place until the end of 2011. This extension is a sign of the government's determination to keep the price of pharmaceuticals down. However, savings from cost-containment measures have been more than counterbalanced by the wider use of new and expensive pharmaceuticals. There is strong domestic production, although many producers focus on the export market, and therefore many pharmaceutical imports are in retail-ready packages.

Finland was hit hard by the global economic downturn, but GDP growth resumed in 2010. The country has one of the largest proportions of population over the age of 65 in Western Europe, and so healthcare is increasingly focused on preventative care. A reference price system has been introduced in an effort to reduce rising healthcare costs. It is hoped that the new system will reduce the use of expensive medicinal products, thus lowering the costs for patients and reducing the pressure to raise health insurance payments. There are three leading domestic producers in Finland: Orion, Verman and Vitabalans. Multinational companies Bayer and Santen also have production facilities in Finland. The top ten pharmaceutical companies in Finland had combined sales of over 1.0 billion euros at wholesale prices in 2010. The leading company was Orion, with a market share of nearly 10.0%.

Lithuania is the largest of the three Baltic states, with an estimated population of 3.2 million in 2011. The country was hit particularly hard by the global economic crisis, but growth in the Lithuanian pharmaceutical market will pick up as the economy continues to recover and imports strengthen. Funding for healthcare is principally through the Compulsory Health Insurance Fund. Private expenditure has increased in recent years and is equal to 27.2% of total spending in 2011. A large proportion of the pharmaceutical market is supplied by imports. Generics represent around two thirds of the market in terms of volume. Sales of generics could increase in the future if the government goes ahead with plans to make generic drugs at least 30% cheaper than their branded equivalents. Lithuania also boasts one of the most significant biotechnology industries in the region.

The economic downturn was far less pronounced in Norway than in most other European countries. The introduction of international reference pricing has had a moderating effect on pharmaceutical price levels, and a step-price system for off-patent drugs has ensured that prices for all generics have fallen. All of the major international pharmaceutical companies are represented in Norway, with the leading companies focusing on generic production. Biotech companies are also emerging in increasing numbers. Due to the small scale of domestic production, any increases in demand are likely to be met by imports. Since the introduction of generic substitution, generic drugs have been able to gain an increasing share of the market.

Sweden has the largest pharmaceutical market in the region. The country was deeply affected by the global economic downturn, but is recovering well. Sweden has an advanced healthcare system that is partially privately funded. The pharmacy monopoly has been deregulated, with the introduction of independent pharmacies. Apoteket AB has remained a key competitor in the market, with around a third of pharmacies remaining under state ownership. Other leading pharmacy chains include Apotek Hjärtat and Kronans Droghandel. Pfizer and AstraZeneca are established in the pharmaceutical market and have major manufacturing operations in Sweden. There are a number of small biologic companies in Sweden, as well as several multinationals which engage in biopharmaceutical R&D and production. The strength of R&D in Sweden bodes well for the future of the biotechnology industry.

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